Not a big futbol follower?  Me neither.  This however has the capacity to change that (as most compelling human interest stories do.) To wit, Oguchi Onyewu a defenseman for AC Milan.  His team played without him for an entire season after he suffered a torn patellar tendon.  (Not unusual.)  Is now ready to join his team in time for the World Cup. (Yeah, fortuitous timing.) And is willing to forego an entire year’s salary to play an extra year for Milan.

(Wait, what?)

Yup, Onyewu and his lawyer asked for and got a one-year contract extension sans paycheck.  How notable is this in a world where athletes are constantly trying to out salary each other?  Out endorse each other?  Out cross promote each other?  Not to digress entirely (as I digress entirely) but the NFL draft is one example of the reprehensible money-grubbingness of today’s athlete.  The obscene amount of cash increases millions every year for these kids who have never played a down of professional football.  Or how about the athletes that oftentimes unjustifiably hold out from camps, practices and the like to boycott their salary?  And let us not forget the player that expects more money coming off an injury-shortened year.  These the most egregious of offenders.  Players always ask for more money and never offer to give any back.  Did a quarterback throw a million interceptions (I’m looking at you, Jake Delhomme) and offer to pay part of his contract back?  Did a certain most-paid defensive lineman need oxygen and get carted off the field without any disincentive not to? (That’s you, Albert.)  Did Julius Peppers compensate the Panthers monetarily when he had no sacks?   (Sorry for all the Carolina references.)  You could increase the list ad infinitum and nauseum. Which is why “Gooch” should be celebrated and have billboards erected in his honor.

Instead he’ll be a blip on the radar for bloggers and sportsy radio hosts.  (Guilty.)  But this magnanimous gesture should not be a footnote.   I hope that in the future he can be used as a benchmark or reference point for awesomeness and selflessness.  Or at the very least he’ll be a “oh, remember when that guy played for free?”